May 7, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -
For the first time in program history, the Alabama men's tennis team will host the NCAA First and Second Round at the University of Alabama Tennis Stadium. The 14th-ranked Crimson Tide will take on No. 59 Furman on Friday, May 8 at 5:00 p.m. (CST). That match is preceded by the No. 25 Boise State/No. 57 Middle Tennessee State contest that will begin at 2:00 p.m. (CST).
“Hosting an NCAA Regional has certainly been one of our goals, and we’re excited to have the opportunity this weekend,” said head coach Billy Pate. “It’s also a great reward for our players and fans, and we expect a great crowd. We’d like to be consistently successful so that we can have the opportunity to host on a regular basis, and this year we took a good step with our program to do that. Our athletic support staff has gone out of their way to ensure a first class atmosphere for the visiting teams and the fans. It will be a nice opportunity to showcase our beautiful campus and facilities.”
Alabama is making its fourth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Last season, the Tide lost in the opening round to South Alabama 4-3 in Tallahassee, Fla. Alabama’s best finish in the NCAA Tournament is the Round of 16, which was last accomplished in 2007 when the Tide defeated East Tennessee State and Duke before falling to Baylor. This is Alabama’s sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament under head coach Billy Pate and 15th overall in program history. This season, Alabama finished with a record of 20-7, including 16 wins over ranked opponents. In addition, six of those seven losses came to teams currently ranked in the top 10.
The Tide has two players ranked nationally in singles, with junior Saketh Myneni at No. 22 and senior Mathieu Thibaudeau at No. 84. Alabama also has two doubles pairs nationally ranked, both involving Thibaudeau. Thibaudeau and fellow senior Dan Buikema are currently No. 23, while he and freshman Ricky Doverspike are currently No. 51.
Furman enters the Tournament after winning its second consecutive Southern Conference Championship. The Paladins recorded 22 wins on the season, and are currently on a 15-match winning streak. Furman is led by two seniors, Andy Juc and Bo Ladyman. Juc is currently ranked No. 104 nationally in singles, while teaming up with Ladyman in doubles, earning a ranking of No. 45.
Alabama has already met the Paladins once this season, claiming a 5-2 victory as part of a season-opening doubleheader for the Tide at the Hank Crisp Indoor Tennis Facility.
“We need to do a good job as a team to maintain focus and play our best tennis,” added Pate. “Furman will bring a lot of fire and energy, and we are doing our very best to prepare for a difficult first round match.”
Boise State comes in with a record of 22-8, with 13 of those wins coming against ranked foes. The Broncos are making their 14th appearance overall in the NCAA Tournament and 12th under current head coach Greg Patton. Boise State has not made it past the first round since 2006.
Earlier this season, the Broncos fell to Alabama 4-0 in the Blue Gray Tennis Classic in Montgomery, Ala.
Middle Tennessee State enters the weekend with a 16-9 record, including winning the Sun Belt Tournament Championship. This will be the Blue Raiders sixth appearance in the Tournament in the past 10 years, and eighth overall in program history. This is the first ever trip to the Tournament for Middle Tennessee head coach David McNamara, who earned Sun Belt Coach of the Year this season.
The Tide also faced the Blue Raiders at the Blue Gray Tennis Classic, claiming a 4-0 victory.
The winners of the Alabama/Furman and Boise State/Middle Tennessee matches will face off on Saturday, May 9 at 2:00 p.m. (CST) in the second round.
Tickets are available on RollTide.com by clicking here and will also be available at the stadium gates. The cost per session for adults is $5 and $3 for students and youth. Fans can also visit the Tournament Central page, which provides live scoring, results of completed matches, and more, by clicking here. This page can also be accessed by visiting RollTide.com and looking under the “MORE IN TENNIS” section of the men’s tennis homepage.